Complete Guide to Commercial Roofing Types - Central Homes Roofing
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Complete Guide to Commercial Roofing Types

Learn about the different materials to choose the right one for your building
Read Time: 5 minutes
Jul 4, 2022

Commercial buildings have specific roofing needs that any building owner needs to be aware of. Because commercial roofs are typically flat, different materials are used than for residential roofs. Below is a complete guide to the different types of commercial roofing materials so that you can make the right choice for your roof replacement.

Metal Commercial Roofing

a commercial building with a sloped metal roof

Metal roofing has been increasing in popularity in the residential sector, but it’s not just good for homes. A commercial roof can also be made from metal. The following metals are common options for commercial roofing:

  • Galvanized steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Metal tiles
  • Aluminum

Benefits of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing’s popularity is on the rise because of its numerous advantages, including:

  • Durability
  • Long lifespan
  • Fire resistance
  • Water leak prevention
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Reduces energy costs
  • Improves HVAC performance
  • Modern look

Drawbacks of Metal Roofing

No roofing material is without its downsides. These include:

  • Rusting
  • Noise during weather
  • Higher up-front costs

Tip

Fortunately, all of these drawbacks are easily addressed. A metal roof can be treated in order to prevent rust. Insulation can help to prevent excess noise during bad weather conditions. As for the high up-front costs, it’s true that metal roofs do cost more to install than other types of roofing material, but the long lifespan means that you end up spending less over time.

PVC Commercial Roofing

a commercial building roof covered in PVC roofing material

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a popular choice for commercial roofing. This is because it’s durable, wind-resistant, and relatively inexpensive to install.

Benefits of PVC Roofing

PVC’s popularity as a roofing material comes from its availability. It’s easy to purchase and doesn’t cost as much as other types of roofing material. It’s also a great option for locations like Florida where high-speed hurricane winds can damage roofs that aren’t resistant to wind.

Drawbacks of PVC Roofing

The PVC material might be less expensive, but the installation may cost more. This is because PVC has to be installed on a completely flat surface. The installers may need to remove any older roofing materials, which could increase the costs of the installation process.

BUR Commercial Roofing

a commercial roof made of gravel BUR

Another common roofing material for commercial buildings is BUR, or built-up roofing. BUR has been around since the 1800s but really became popular for commercial buildings in the 1970s. For this reason, a lot of commercial buildings that were built around that time have BUR. It’s also commonly used with high-rise buildings.

Benefits of BUR

There’s a reason why BUR has been so popular for so many years and it’s not that other options weren’t available. BUR has the following advantages:

  • Waterproofing
  • Low cost
  • Fire-resistance
  • UV resistance
  • Space usage efficiency
  • Low maintenance requirements

Drawbacks of BUR

Although BUR is low maintenance, some maintenance is still required. Additionally, there are some common problems that can occur include:

  • Cracking
  • Blistering
  • Open joints
  • Split joints
  • Undulations
  • Waves
  • Water pooling

Tip

Most of the time, these issues are easily addressed with regular maintenance. As with any type of roof, regular inspections can catch issues before they become major problems.

TPO Single-Ply Membrane Commercial Roofing

A commercial roof covered in single-ply membrane TPO commercial roofing material

Thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO, is a single-ply roofing membrane that is popular due to its low cost. Unlike PVC, it’s possible for TPO to be installed on top of other materials. This can help to reduce the installation costs.

Benefits of TPO Roofing

There are more reasons to use TPO roofing, other than the cost. These pluses include:

  • Strong seams
  • Fire resistance
  • Wind resistance
  • High temperature resistance
  • Temperature change resistance
  • Low temperature resistance

Drawbacks of TPO Roofing

If TPO roofing isn’t installed correctly, then the seams may not last very long and they can be expensive to repair. Additionally, TPO is a newer roofing material. This means that it’s unknown exactly how well it holds up over time compared to other materials that have been in use for a lot longer.

EPDM Commercial Roofing

A commercial roof with EPDM roofing

Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer, or EPDM, is also commonly known as a rubber roof. With this type of roofing system, a rubber membrane covers the roof, protecting it from UV rays.

Benefits of EPDM Roofing

One of the main benefits of EPDM roofing is that its rubber membrane is resistant to the sun’s UV rays. Because of this, the HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to heat or cool the building. This also saves the building owner money on energy bills. EPDM roofs are also waterproof and resistant to both heat and cold.

Drawbacks of EPDM Roofing

EPDM isn’t the most durable of roofing materials. It’s comparatively easy to damage. On top of that, every protrusion on the roof, such as pipes, HVAC units, or vents, can compromise the integrity of the EPDM on your roof, creating vulnerabilities.

Green Commercial Roofing

commercial buildings in Monaco with green roofs

Green roofs are now more popular than they’ve ever been for both residential and commercial buildings. They can be a great way to contribute to improving the environment while also providing a green space for people, whether they’re customers or employees or both, to enjoy.

Benefits of a Green Roof

A green roof can also help to increase the lifespan of your roof. This is because it creates an additional layer of protection between the roof and the sun and weather. It also helps to better drain water off the roof. On top of that, green roofs are more sustainable and reduce energy costs.

Drawbacks of a Green Roof

Green roofs can cost more than more traditional types of roofing materials. This type of roof also weighs more and some buildings may not be able to handle the weight. Green roofs also require more maintenance than other types of commercial roofs.

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